Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Clammy Groundcherry: Physallis heterophylla

Weed Description: A perennial from rhizomes, 8 inches to several feet in height. Mature plants develop a papery case over the berry. Found throughout the eastern United states, west to Utah and Texas, also found in Washington.
Seedling: Stem below the cotyledon (hypocotyl) smooth or with short hairs toward the top. Cotyledons 1-4 mm wide, 4-9 mm long, without hairs, or with a row of hairs on margins and on the midvein below. Plants emerging from rhizomes lack cotyledons.
Leaves: Alternate, ovate, 1-3 inches long, margins are either continuous and untoothed or shallowly indented. Hairs are short and dense along the margins and on the lower leaf surface, but few and scattered on the upper surface.

Roots: Deeply buried thick rhizomes.

Stems: Erect, highly branched, with hairs.

Flowers: Occur singularly on flower stalks (pedicels) in the region between the stem and leaf, or the region between the stem and branch (axils of the branches and leaves). Petals are yellow with a purple center.

Fruit: A round berry, surrounded by a papery case (the calyx). The berry is yellow when mature.

Identifying Characteristics: Perennial from rhizomes, yellow and purple flowers, stems and leaves hairy, papery case surrounding the berry. Smooth groundcherry (Physalis subglabrata) is similar but does not have the dense (clammy) hairs that are typical of clammy groundcherry. Additionally, the berries of smooth groundcherry are orange, red, or purple when mature, unlike the yellow berries of clammy groundcherry.